No charge, professor

Feb. 1, 2001
Some time ago, the George-town University Dental School in Washington, D.C., established a new Depart-ment of Community Dentistry, and I was asked to serve as its chair. .

Don Dible

Some time ago, the George-town University Dental School in Washington, D.C., established a new Depart-ment of Community Dentistry, and I was asked to serve as its chair. Our department provided lectures and other activities for all classes, from freshman through senior. In the process, my colleagues and I had the opportunity to closely observe the progress of our students, and we got to know many of them rather well.

At age 65, I retired. Ten years later, as a white-haired, arthritic old professor, I broke a tooth. On those rare occasions when I needed a little dentistry, I had relied on the services of a fellow faculty member in Washington. However, my broken tooth was a major problem requiring immediate attention and, at age 75, I wasn't eager to navigate the heavy traffic in our nation's capital. Instead, I decided to visit the office of Dr. Alan Hinkle in a Washington suburb near my home because I remembered that he had been an outstanding student.

As I expected, the fractured tooth proved unsalvageable. Following the extraction, Dr. Hinkle refused to accept any money. When my gum had healed, I returned to his office for impressions so that a permanent bridge could be produced to replace the lost tooth. Since the special type of bridge to be made was typically quite expensive, I told him I insisted on paying - at the very least - a reduced "professional courtesy" fee.

In due time, Dr. Hinkle made a fine bridge. After he had cemented it in, he accompanied me to the waiting room where I inquired of his receptionist what the fee was. "Nothing, Dr. Christopher. Those are my orders."

I turned to Dr. Hinkle, "C'mon, Alan, you can at least let me pay the lab bill!"

Dr. Hinkle looked me in the eyes, smiled, put both hands on my shoulders, and said, "When I feel I've given you more than you have given me, then I'll start to charge you."

I was embarrassed and overwhelmed. I don't know what came over me, but I started to cry. The dentist and his receptionist asked if I was OK. "I'm alright," I answered as I wiped away the tears. "Your generosity went right to my heart - it really got to me." Moments later, glowing with the experience of receiving love and kindness from a very caring human being, this white-haired old teacher left for the parking lot.

"No charge, professor" was written by Andrew Christoper, DDS. EXTRAS are great Chicken Soup for the Dental Soul stories edited by co-author and keynote speaker, Don Dible, for which there simply wasn't enough room in the book. Not sold in stores, Chicken Soup for the Dental Soul is available by phone toll-free at (800) 247-6553 or by mail from DMD House, 1250 Oakmead Parkway, Suite 210, Sunnyvale, CA 94085 for $12.95 plus $4 shipping. Quantity discounts available. You may contact Don Dible at [email protected].